Cover Image: The Irish Boarding House

The Irish Boarding House

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Abandoned by her mother Mary Kate was raised by her grandparents. When her grandparents pass away she is left to make a way for herself in the world. 
This is one of the best books I have read in several years. Loved all the characters. You could relate to the story and the situations. A definite feel good book.
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC and to the publisher Bookouture.
Was this review helpful?
Mary Kate had a tough life and when she gets an unexpected windfall/inheritance. she wants to make life more comfortable for other single women.
I loved meeting all the ladies who came to live in the boarding house, with their stories. The characters are drawn so well that you really feel as though you are living amongst them.
It's the first book I've read by Sandy Taylor and I loved her style and will be keen to read more from this author.
Was this review helpful?
I love historical fiction so I was incredibly keen to read this book and I am so glad that I did as it is fantastic. The descriptions were amazing and felt as if we were really there. It was honest, engaging, captivating and a page-turner - everything you could possibly want in a book!
Was this review helpful?
This book was such a delight to read, especially learning of Mary Kate's life, from poverty to riches.
She was such a lovely, caring character, and what she did with her inheritance, and how she brought a group of people together, was such interesting.
I enjoyed reading of how each added character, came to be at the Irish Boarding House, the beautiful descriptions of what colors, and furniture, each room was decorated in, was a lovely touch.
I have always enjoyed reading these light, historical fiction books. They are just so nice to finish a day, reading.
Thank you so much to the author, and to the publisher, for allowing me to read this advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
A beautifully written story of love and second chances. Its my first book by this author and I absolutely loved it, so definitely looking forward to reading more from her.

The plot drew me in from page one and I'm a sucker for historical fiction so literally read it straight through. Heart-warming, emotive and thoroughly enjoyable.

Mary-Kate and her family lacked in many things, but they had love  and I think this saw them through many a dark time.

Many thanks to Bookouture for my tour spot.

Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Was this review helpful?
Mary Kate Ryan was brought up by her grandparents after her mother left her there as a baby. On their death she was thrown out of the house & went to Dublin. In 1952, after going from one gloomy boarding house to another, struggling to make ends meet she decides that her life is not worth living. But someone is looking out for her & a solicitor finds her & tells her that her mother has died a rich woman & left everything to her. It takes a while for this to sink in but when she sees a run down but beautiful house she decides to open a boarding house, but one where the residents are cared for. 

This was a lovely story full of interesting characters & a good sense of place & time. I really enjoyed it. Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
Was this review helpful?
Ah, this book was a bit of a mixed bag, for me. 

Mary Kate Ryan had it tough, as someone who was abandoned by her mother when she was a baby. She was happily brought up by her grandparents, but when they died, her life took a perilous turn. Suddenly, she inherits a large sum of money, which changes her life and a lot of other people besides. 

Now, the premise for the book was good. And I was really looking forward to getting swept along by the story - only, that didn't happen. Yes, I was reading about what good things Mary Kate was putting into the world, and the friendships that she made along the way were touching. Somehow though, it was missing a bit of heart. I just wasn't feeling it. It was one of those books where the author writes about what is going on, but somehow the emotional connections were not there for me.


3.5 stars from me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture.
Was this review helpful?
The Irish Boarding House kept me engrossed with it during a really hectic time for me.  Sandy has written an amazing tale with great characters with the lead being Mary Kate; she was left by her mother when she was a baby with her grandparents.  She grows up in a poor side of town carrying for her beloved grandparents but when they sadly die she has to leave the only home she had known...... I loved this novel and highly recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
A fantastic book from Sandy. I absolutely loved every character and felt so invested in them. A brilliant heartwarming and heartbreaking story.
Was this review helpful?
It’s been a very long time since I read anything by Sandy Taylor but when I first saw the cover and read the blurb for The Irish Boarding House it sounded very interesting and as it was set in Ireland it made me want to read it even more. Well, what can I say it was just such a lovely read from start to finish and I found myself nearing the end before I knew it which is a good sign and shows that I didn’t find the plot dull or that it was a trial to get through as there wasn’t much happening. In fact, it was the total opposite and I was pleasantly surprised by how engrossed I became in everything. Anytime, I had to put the book down for whatever reason I found myself wanting to get back to Mary Kate and the residents of her boarding house as I was eager to see how their individual stories would pan out and how they fed into the story as a whole. Perhaps, the highest compliment I can pay The Irish Boarding House is that the further I read the more I felt this was so reminiscent of the late great Maeve Binchy. The setting, the varied cast of characters all with their own problems and then coming together as a family, the warmth and human understanding and just the overall tone and feel of the book reminded me of so many books written by Maeve. I never thought I would experience that again but through reading this gorgeous book from Sandy Taylor it evoked many happy reading memories for me. 

Mary Kate Ryan is our main female character and from the outset she knows what it feels like to be abandoned as her mother Agnes gave her up and fled as soon as she was born. Her grandparents raised her and she was happy and they gave her a good childhood and upbringing but still she feels the loss of her mother and questions why she gave her up and why she never made any efforts to contact her. But now Mary Kate is alone once again as her grandparents are dead and she is left on her own. The landlord throws her out of the cottage on Tanners Row and she spends 15 years going from one horrible boarding house to another. Her despair grows ever deeper and she questions why her grandfather as one of his last dying wishes urged her to buy a new diary every year and write in it, saying she should gain wisdom from her failures and take pride in her success. As far as she can see nothing good has happened to her for years so despite buying the diaries the pages remain empty. Also why was she asked to set up a box number having been told you never know you may send you a letter. 

Poor Mary Kate was so down on herself and to be honest within these first few introductory chapters there really wasn’t much that would endear you to her as a character. But when she receives a letter in the box her fortunes are changed and this came at just the right point as things really were at a bad crossroads for Mary Kate. A solicitor writes to tell her that she is now a wealthy woman having inherited her mother’s fortune and several properties in London. From here on in there is a remarkable transformation in Mary Kate. It was like the burdens were shed from her shoulders and she was determined to do good in her life both for herself and so many others. I loved that yes there was still a slight bitterness towards her mother abandoning her but that she took the money and was determined to do good with it. New clothes, a new hairstyle and wearing makeup for the first time see a new Mary Kate for the first time and I loved seeing her confidence and ambition just grow and grow throughout the book. She was determined that every day was going to be a red letter day and that she would spread her good fortune to others in the hopes of improving other people’s lives too.

A very run down house is purchased in the centre of Dublin on Merrion Square and with the help of builder Sean and some designers the house becomes the best boarding house in Dublin and it throws opens it doors to welcome a varied cast of characters. All women it must be said but from different walks of life, both young and old but all with very interesting stories which are revealed piece by piece overtime in a relaxed and measured way. There were a few twists and turns and surprising connections which emerge and the major one although I could see it coming I felt was resolved all too quickly given the past history and I would have loved just a little bit more fleshing out of it with perhaps a chapter or two more to allow for some exploration and further discussion. But aside from that I just loved this wonderful read from beginning to end and in fact I would have loved for it to have continued on.

I was initially worried that quite a number of characters were being introduced and I found myself thinking oh I’ll have such trouble keeping track of who is who and what their backstory is and how in turn it feeds into the main plot of the book. Well, I needn’t have worried at all. The way each character was introduced in that they each got their own chapter interspersed throughout the ongoing story worked perfectly. We learn how they come to be residents of the boarding house and a little bit about them but not too much was given away too soon. I just loved the family unit that they all built up and it was all thanks to Mary Kate using the money to do good not only for herself but for so many others. She became like the matriarch to whom they all turned to for advice and it wasn’t just a case that the residents were renting a room and going off to work each day, it was as if they were walking into a new family and whatever troubles or worries that had would be dealt with in a kind, compassionate and loving way no matter how big or small they were.

As mentioned there were lots of characters who featured in this story. Moira has left her teaching job after many years but is very cold and closed off. What has caused her to be this way? Mary Kate takes in Jessie and Abby from the local convent orphanage. Poor Abby doesn’t speak and Jessie is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Twins Polly and Orla make their way from Cork to the big smoke for the first job in the famous Cleary’s department store. But are they both happy and they tend to get involved in other people’s problems but they do have a good heart and nature about them. Colleen has a very interesting story to tell and I think Mary Kate identified the most with her. I loved how everyone gathered around Collen and was so supportive of her. As for Diane Mason is she the one with the darkest story of all?

Mary Kate was a wonderful character who did a complete 360 from when we first meet her. Her actions change peoples lives and bring peace and secure futures for many. She never made a rash judgement regarding individual women’s situations instead she offered a place of refuge and security and the women she takes her under her wing appreciated her all the more for it. I’d really love a continuation of The Irish Boarding House. Despite the way things ended I feel the characters plus many more could be brought back again and the fact that I am saying this shows how much I really enjoyed the book. If you want a heart-warming story with a few twists and turns to keep you turning the pages than I have no hesitation in recommending The Irish Boarding House.
Was this review helpful?
What a wonderful book.
This book was lovely.
The writing was in such an easy reading style, it was the perfect way to spend a couple of evenings before bed.
Sandy Taylor created such warm characters, that you instantly liked and rooted for immediately.
The setting of 1950s Dublin was so interesting, and really made me want to revisit the vibrant city and learn more about it's history.
Then comes the drama. The family secrets thread that unfolds is shocking and dramatic and utterly compelling.
A terrific book and now another new author to look out for!
Was this review helpful?
Sandy Taylor is a new-to-me author but now that I have read The Irish Boarding House I will certainly be looking for other books she has written. This story has wonderful characters I could believe in with a lot of twists and turns that were completely believable. Set mostly around 1951so this is a historical novel, taking place in Dublin. 

It is interesting how the storyline is more recent history with car, planes, and rotary phones. Still to be correct much research would have been done to get the technology or lack of it among the poor such as running water and inside bathrooms. Most of all it is how the goodness and kindness of characters changed the lives as well as the positive growth in others. From beginning to end it is a heartwarming and uplifting book.  I highly recommend The Irish Boarding House to all who enjoy a well told tale. 

An ARC of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley which I voluntarily chose to read and reviewed. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Dublin, 1952:  Mary Kate Ryan receives an unexpected inheritance from her mother who abandoned her when she was an infant.  She never knew why her mother left her but has always wanted to know.  Mary Kate is ready to refuse the money until she sees an old deserted, rundown house for sale.  She dreams of turning the old house into the Dublin Boarding House to provide shelter for single women that need a roof over their head.  The Dublin Boarding House is exactly the place that two young orphans need.  A young pregnant teenager needs a safe place to stay for herself and her baby.  The boarding house is exactly what Mary Kate needs to build lifelong friendships with those that are in the same situation she was in at one time.  

This heartwarming and gut wrenching story is phenomenal.  I loved the amazing characters and felt such a connection with them.  Their stories of what they endured in life and overcoming their obstacles were very inspirational.  The family secrets that unfolded was something I never expected.  This book hits all the feels with its emotional and heartbreaking storyline bringing you to tears, and then bringing a smile to your face and joy to your heart.  This captivating read will have you flying through the pages anxious to find out what will happen next.  I loved this book and found it a completely unputdownable novel.  A five star must read, that I highly recommend.

Thank you Sandy Taylor for such an amazing story.  You are such an amazing author and I absolutely love your writing style.
Was this review helpful?
While this type of feel-good fiction is not normally to my taste, I believe that this competently written novel satisfies the requirements of its target audience effectively. The stories of a number of women occupying the eponymous Irish boarding house are simple and heartwarming, and, though I prefer more insight into the inner lives and motivations of characters, and greater differentiation through the characterization of individuals in a story, I feel that the reader will enjoy this easy read and come away feeling a warm glow at the satisfactory resolutions of the characters' problems.
Was this review helpful?
As soon as I hear that Sandy Taylor has a new book coming out I don’t even need to ask what it’s about I just have to read it.  So as soon as I heard about The Irish Boarding House I was so impatient to read it .   As soon as I started it I was transported back in time to Dublin in the 1950’s, so good was the descriptions of Dublin back then by the author.   Sandy Taylor’s books are like a warm comfortable favourite blanket that you just want to curl up with and enjoy.  I was utterly enthralled by this book and although at times it made me cry there were also some laugh out loud moments.   I adored it . 5 big ones for me ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Was this review helpful?
I love historical fiction and this one is set in Dublin in 1952. 
Mary receives word that she has an inheritance from her mother who disappeared when she was a baby. 
she has always wanted to know why she was left and felt neglected and abandoned . Mary decides to use the money to buy an old house in Dublin and open boarding house for shelter to other ladies .
This book is full of friendships  and secrets.
Was this review helpful?
Mary Kate grew up with her grandparents after she was abandoned by her mother as a newborn. She always felt something was missing from her life and never felt that she belonged to a family. As she grew up, she was even more frustrated that her mom knew exactly where she was, but never wanted anything to do with her life. Then, out of the blue, Mary Kate receives an inheritance from the very same woman she held a grudge against all of her life. Mary Kate decides to take the money and open up the Dublin Boarding House for Single Ladies. As someone who bounced between many boarding houses with crappy living conditions, she wanted to create a warm and inviting space for these women who needed a space to call home, no matter how short or long that was. What she didn’t expect would be the love and friendship that also came into her life as she opened her red front door. 

What I enjoyed the most about this book is how there were several stories that intertwined with each other. The characters were endearing and very likable. You couldn’t help but want to see everything work out within each plot line. This book has mysteries, secrets and of course a side of romance. It was an enjoyable read and one that kept me hitting next on my kindle.
Was this review helpful?
This was a very sweet, heartwarming and a perfect feel-good book if you need a little pick-me-up! The religious talk was a bit too much for me, but I suppose I should have expected it, as the book is taking place in Ireland. Apart from that, it was well written and I enjoyed following the characters' stories.
I'll try other books from that author, hopefully it will be as engrossing as this one, but with less religion :)

4.5 stars.

Thank you to the publisher who provided me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this lovely book

mary kate ryan had been left by her mother with her grandparents at a very early age and when they died her life changed dramatically....and some of it not for the good

before her grandfather died he made mary kate promise to keep a post office box for any red letter days and to keep buying a diary every year and this she kept up

that red letter day appeared one day years later and her life changed dramatically....

i have to admit i floundered at first with the plethora of people in this book but once they were sorted in my head it pulled me right in.... i dont want to give to much away but i was struck with one or two questions but they were answered as i kept reading this book

its a lovely story with highs and lows and some tearful moments in them... and i will be keeping an eye out for more of this authors works
Was this review helpful?
Oh my heart! What a delightful read THE IRISH BOARDING HOUSE is! Sandy Taylor's easy style is both heartwarming and uplifting, making you just want to crawl into the pages and stay there. I loved every minute in the company of such an array of wonderful characters that I came to know and love through Taylor's gifted pen.

Set in Dublin in the early 1950s, Mary Kate Ryan was brought up by her loving grandparents in Tanners Row, an area of extreme poverty. But what they may have been lacking in riches they had in love, tenfold. Mary Kate's own mother Agnes was but a child herself when she gave birth and having spent just a few days with her, thus abandoned her baby to the care of her aging parents. Despite this, Mary Kate's childhood was happy one surrounded by the love of her grandparents and others living in Tanners Row.

However, when her grandparents pass away within months of each other, Mary Kate is evicted from the only home she has known with only a suitcase and the clothes on her back. But before he died, her grandfather gave Mary Kate to tasks: set up a post office box to receive mail and buy a diary to mark her red letter days. With this in mind, Mary Kate heads to Dublin where she drifts from a series of poor-paying jobs to pay for filthy depressing boarding houses run by horrible mean-spirited women. Each one being worse than the one before. Thinking her life could get be no better, she considers throwing herself into the Liffey and ending her sorry existence.

And then the most extraordinary thing happens. She receives a letter. And not just any letter. One that changes her life dramatically. And so Mary Kate finds herself with a considerable inheritance and so much money she has no idea what to do with it...until she does. She wants to buy 24 Merrion Square and turn it into a boarding house for single ladies. And she instructs her builder to paint her a bright red front door. To remind her of her red letter days.

Soon Mary Kate begins to receive tenants from all walks of life and she warmly welcomes each and every one of them hoping that her house will feel like a home. Doing her level best to help others by giving them a second chance and getting to know her boarders, Mary Kate soon realises that she has finally found the family she had been looking for since leaving Tanners Row.

Each woman who passes through the doors of Mary Kate's boarding house have their own tales to tell. As their landlady and their friend, she embraces them and becomes like a mother hen to them all.

And then comes a shocking secret that has the power to destabilise her now stable life. Will it be too much for her to bear? Or will she survive the truth and draw strength from it?

What a truly delightful read. I was totally immersed in the story from the very beginning and really didn't want to leave at the end. I embraced every character just as Mary Kate did and found them equally endearing in their own unique ways. Most of them bring secrets with them or a past from which they are running and at the boarding house they find love, acceptance and kindness...regardless of the mistakes they may have made. There is such warmth to everyone it was hard not to like them. Even Moira Kent.

I loved everything about it. The story. The characters. The drama. The intrigue. The romance. The ending.

A beautiful story of kindness, hope and second chances THE IRISH BOARDING HOUSE is the perfect feel-good story that is filled with love, laughter, tears and joy. I truly and thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is an exceptional read that I highly recommend.

I would like to thank #SandyTaylor, #NetGalley and #Bookouture for an ARC of #TheIrishBoardingHouse in exchange for an honest review.

This review appears on my blog at
Was this review helpful?